What will Trump do the day after his 9/11
Fascism never rings the front doorbell to announce its arrival. Like all villains, thieves and unscrupulous cons, it opportunistically and patiently awaits for a window left ajar.
For the past 18 months, US President-elect Donald Trump has promised an array of proposals that can only be described as the very founding principles of authoritarian fascism.Trump promised fascism. Voters chose his fascist ideas, and now political institutions are ratifying his fascism. I mean, what can go wrong?
Trump has threatened to jail political opponents and declared war on the press, threatening to implement libel laws against journalists. He has singled out Muslim Americans as enemies of the state, while at the same time selling himself as a messianic figure, telling Americans that he and he alone will not only make America great again, but also will save angry white men from all of their perceived and imagined enemies.
This is the fascistic future promised by America's soon-to-be 45th president.
But campaign promises are just that, campaign promises. For fascism to take hold, for it to uproot democratic and civic institutions, it first needs to be normalised. In other words, fascism requires the will of the people.
The unthinkable abyss
Hillary Clinton's concession speech, in which she announced Americans must now come together to support President-elect Trump was the first step in normalising Trump's fascist proposals. Moments afterwards, Democrats of all varieties - including those identified as the far left - joined in echoing Clinton's call for unity.
It's these calls that sanctify and normalise Trump's fascism, for it ratifies every unconstitutional and civil rights-violating promise Trump had made during the past 18 months.
Trump promised fascism. Voters chose his fascist ideas, and now political institutions are ratifying his fascism. I mean, what can go wrong?
Well, plenty if you've already been declared an enemy of the state. In other words, fascism is already a reality for America’s three million Muslims, and things are about to get a whole lot worse.
Trump is yet to even take office, and senior members of his transition team have reaffirmed Trump’s commitment to force register every one of America's three million Muslims on a government watch list, and to implement “extreme vetting” of every Muslim tourist or migrant entering the country.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is a senior Trump adviser and widely tipped to be the next US Attorney General, confirmed the transition team were “mulling over” reinstating a registry for all immigrants from Muslim countries.
It's impossible to overstate how very close US democracy, and America's three million Muslims, are from falling into the unthinkable abyss.
Meet Trump's team
Consider those who comprise Trump's inner orb: his newly appointed chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is an overt white supremacist and anti-Semite; his military adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn, said “Islam is a cancer”; and his rumoured Defense Secretary, Jeff Sessions (R-AL), has expressed sympathy for the Ku Klux Klan.
It's now not a stretch to describe Trump’s White House as an anti-Muslim hate group
In fact, it’s now not a stretch to describe Trump’s White House as an anti-Muslim hate group, and if the above assortment of deplorables is not enough for you to receive a warning signal from the mid-20thcentury, meet the latest apparent appointee to Trump’s transition team – Frank Gaffney.
Gaffney has a history of disseminating anti-Muslim propaganda into America’s body politic. He has not only accused President Obama of being a secret Muslim, but has also claimed that US political institutions and liberal activist groups are being subverted by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, warning of an “Islamist Fifth Column operating inside our own country with the inherent capability to exploit the vulnerabilities, and the civil liberties, of our society". A complete list of Gaffney’s conspiratorial, anti-Muslim claims is exhaustive .
Last week I was in Berlin, Germany, for Remembrance Day, a day in which the world promises to never forget and proclaims "never again". While Nazi-Trump analogies are often lazy, they are, at the same, far too eerie to ignore, particularly if you’re a Muslim.
"Hitler's appointment as Reich chancellor ushered in the destruction of Weimar democracy. The separation of powers, basic rights, freedom of press, pluralism, and federalism were all abolished," reads the opening display inside Berlin's museum, The Topography of Terror, constructed to ensure history will never forget the horrors of the Nazi regime.
I urge you to now review Trump's campaign promises, threats and his reaffirmed commitment to target Muslims, while simultaneously reviewing how and in what order the Nazis dismantled democracy and pluralism in Germany a mere seven decades ago.
It is tempting to dismiss Trump's fascist promises and threats as fast and easy, as it is to dismiss Trump himself as an ignorant buffoon. But Trump’s promises and threats pose questions that lead to frightening places: what happens, for instance, the day after a Muslim carries out the next major terrorist attack in the US?
Do you think Trump will emerge in such a moment of widespread public fear and anxiety to calm and soothe said fears and anxieties, in much the same way Obama successfully did in the aftermath of such madness?
Or do you think Trump, surrounded by an inner circle of racists and anti-Muslim bigots, who have spent the past decade demonising Muslims, will further stoke said fears and anxieties to sate an already Islamophobic public?
If, after witnessing Trump's innumerable infantile emotional responses to political challenges over the course of the past 18 months, you conclude it's the former and not the latter, you might be a Trump sycophant who sees a side to Trump that the rest of the liberal democratic universe does not.
Of course, we can expect the latter. Trump will turn an act of political violence carried out by a Muslim perpetrator to his own political advantage. That’s what those with fascistic authoritarian tendencies do.
On the brink of disaster
Hitler used the Reichstag fire of 1933 to expand his executive powers through vilifying perceived and imagined enemies of the German state, enacting emergency laws that suspended civil liberties and basic human rights, particularly for Jews and members of rival political parties.
Should a terrorist attack occur during Trump's first term, whereby he's almost guaranteed the support of a Republican Party-controlled House and Senate, it's impossible to imagine Trump in that situation calling for calm and restraint.
It's this perceived impossibility that teeters America's experiment with democracy and pluralism on the brink of disaster.
This is not an intellectual exercise nor a hypothetical constructed in the abstract. Hate crimes against Muslim Americans have risen 67 percent in the past 12 months, reaching a level not seen since the first months following 9/11. It’s against this background that Trump and his posse of anti-Muslim bigots rule America.
- CJ Werleman is the author of Crucifying America, God Hates You. Hate Him Back, Koran Curious, and is the host of Foreign Object. Follow him on twitter: @cjwerleman
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.
Photo: Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in North Charleston, South Carolina in February 2016 (AFP)
This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.